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Town of Qualicum Beach seeks $1.25M grant to build temporary housing units

Aim is to move tenants in prior to the end of 2021
The layout of the Town of Qualicum Beach’s proposed temporary shelters. (Town of Qualicum Beach illustration)

The Town of Qualicum Beach has applied for a provincial grant to develop up to 15 temporary dry recovery housing units for people facing homelessness.

The application for $1.25 million to the Strengthening Communities’ Services Program has received the support from the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Areas E (Nanoose Bay), F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood), G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River), and H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay).

Town council voted in favour of the housing project, as well as the co-ordinated efforts of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, the Forward House, and the unanimous backing of the City of Parksville, RDN and MLA Adam Walker.

If the grant funding application is successful, construction is expected to begin within six weeks of approval being received, with the aim of moving tenants into the housing prior to the end of 2021.

The proposed project will create a dry ‘recovery community’ that will act as transitional housing to support those coming out of homelessness and moving into permanent housing.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach’s proposed temporary cold-weather shelter plan rebuffed

Currently, the population of people facing homelessness is spread throughout the region, with most services located in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. If approved, this housing project will be the only dry transitional housing in the area. It will provide an opportunity for service providers to work collectively to serve vulnerable members of the population, help them move out of homelessness, address health and addiction challenges, and eventually move into permanent housing.

The proposed project will be overseen by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, with Forward House managing operations, as they are experienced in supportive housing for adults living with mental health and addiction recovery challenges. The site will have 24-hour security with training in mental health/addictions, one staff member overnight, and two staff members during the day, with other workers coming and going throughout the day.

Holistic wrap-around services will provide a collaborative approach to help tenants stabilize, recover and move into permanent housing. Wrap-around services have shown to increase the likelihood of remaining housed, long-term.

The temporary site will include up to 15 small homes that will be spaced to be COVID-19 health guideline compliant. It will be placed on the western half of 987 Jones St. in Qualicum Beach, lands that currently also host the town’s operations parks yard.

This site was selected as it is close to all services and will allow the town to connect the units to electrical, water and sewer. The town had previously considered a location near the Qualicum Beach airport but was not endorsed by the province due to its distance from services and lack of access to transportation options.

The temporary buildings will not require a foundation, and will be placed on gravel and pilings, making it easy for the units to be relocated in the future.

Although the site identified for this initiative will require the removal of trees and the altering of some trail segments, all town-owned properties being considered would have required the same treatment.

The grant funding will cover the cost of the site preparations, buildings and site operation for nine months. After that time, if the project proves to be successful, the town will explore permanent locations and provincial funding options to continue offering supportive housing to vulnerable people in the community, working in partnership with existing partners and stakeholders. The identification of a possible permanent location will be accomplished through a phased community outreach process to be publicly discussed in a public meeting.

Understanding that there was not sufficient time to have community dialogue in order to take advantage of this grant opportunity with the province, the town, with its project partners, will host a virtual information session, through a committee of the whole meeting, tentatively set for 4 p.m. on April 29.

Residents and interested stakeholders are invited to register and attend the virtual information session to learn more about the project and to ask specific questions. Information shared at the meeting will further help the town with project details.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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